Craigslist founder Craig Newmark announced Thursday that he will donate $6 million to the watchdog website Consumer Reports to create a new “Digital Lab” to focus exclusively on “consumer rights in the digital era.”
“CR’s new Digital Lab will shine a light on the data privacy and security issues that consumers increasingly face, as well as examine the broader topics of fair market competition, transparency, and consumer choice in today’s digital marketplace,” Craig Newmark Philanthropies said in a press release.”
The donation is the single largest gift in the history of Consumer Reports and will allow the organization press its effort to pressure government agencies to be more responsive to digital consumer concerns.
“Our digital testing has already showed how products and services we use every day can expose us to many new and potential harms. Consumer Reports’ new Digital Lab will reveal precisely how and where our rights are undermined by the unchecked influence of technology,” Marta Tellado, CEO and President of Consumer Reports said in a statement. “Armed with that knowledge, consumers can make more secure choices that protect our privacy and hold these giants to account.”
Though Newmark is reviled by some older journalists for Craigslist and its free classified ads, which proved the canary in the coal mine for the demise of legacy media, he has won new friends for his multiple and generous investments in new media start ups and academic institutions.
In February, he donated $10 million to Columbia University to create the “Craig Newmark Philanthropies to Launch a New Center for Journalism Ethics and Security.” There was also an addition $5 million earmarked for the Florida-based media think tank Poynter. Newmark is also the primary backer of the new media startup The Markup, which aims to cover how big tech is changing our relationship to news and politics.